Should You Get Back With An Ex?

Break ups. Ugh. Never clean, rarely final, and always emotionally draining. Just reading the word alone is upsetting. But sometimes the hardest part of the split isn’t the actual break up, it’s that little, nagging voice in your head saying, Wait...was that a mistake?

We consulted therapist and relationship expert, Dr. Tom Arbaugh from Staunton, VA, and the Outreach and Consultation Specialist at JMU’s Counseling and Student Development Center, Dr. Celeste Thomas, to help make sense of one of the most confusing and exhausting post-break up dilemmas known to woman: The Ex-Boyfriend Deliberation. Do you get back together with him? Do you move on for good? What do you do?!

Read on to figure out which kind of Ex you’re dealing with, and, well, how to deal.

The Cheater
Including country divas Kellie Pickler and Carrie Underwood, some people have extremely strong views on this complex ex-boyfriend profile. If you, too, believe that “a cheater is always a cheater,” you might agree that this is an irreversible deal-breaker. However, not every girl feels that a second chance is out of the question.

“Sometimes there’s so much past with someone you’ve been with for a long time, that it can be hard just to walk away…” says JMU junior, Kaitlyn Burrows.

Dr. Arbaugh says, “What really has to be asked is ‘What is my role in his cheating?’” This can be a difficult and painful question to ask ourselves as the “victim”, but he believes that it is necessary to figure out what went wrong, and whether or not that second chance is a good idea. “Of course we always feel that the cheater is the ‘scumbag’, but we always forget that there are two people in a relationship,” he explains.

Dr. Thomas agrees that finding out “the why” is very important, including if there’s any family history of infidelity. “Negative patterns usually repeat,” she explains.

So, what’s the final verdict on the Cheater Ex-Boyfriend? Dr. Thomas says you should base your decision off of whether or not that “why” question can be resolved. “If the reason is some sort of internal problem and they’re not able to resolve the issue – like they only cheat when they’re drunk but won’t give up alcohol – chances are they’ll cheat again,” she says. So consider giving him a second chance if you’ve figured out why it happened, and why you’re both confident it won’t ever happen again.


Caitlin Hardgrove is a senior at James Madison University, concentrating in Print Journalism in the School of Media Arts and Design. In combination with her Music Industry minor, she hopes to one day write for a music magazine publication. Caitlin is also a member of JMU’s dance team, The Dukettes, and their dance club, Madison dance. She has written for the university’s bi-weekly newspaper and interned at InSight, a magazine highlighting life in Montgomery County, MD (her home town). Although her study abroad trip to Ireland last summer will be very hard to top, she hopes to live at the beach this summer after she graduates and work for Delaware Beach Life magazine.

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